Documentary: “Torturing Democracy”

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Torturing Democracy (2008) is a comprehensive documentary, and a very robust web-based archival project concerning the role of torture in the U.S. “war on terror.” See the website. In particular, see:

  1. Transcript of the Movie;
  2. Study Guide;
  3. recently released memoranda on the use of torture techniques;
  4. interviews conducted for the documentary, with: Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State (2002-2005); Richard Armitage Deputy Secretary of State (2001-2005); Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch, Senior Prosecutor, Office of Military Commissions (2003-06); Dr. Michael Gelles, Chief Psychologist, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (1991-2006); Alberto Mora, General Counsel, U.S. Navy (2001-2006)Dr. Allen Keller, Director, Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture; Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve Legal Rights NGOColonel Steven Kleinman, Senior Intelligence Officer, U.S. Air Force (1985-2008); Martin Lederman, Legal Adviser, Department of Justice (1994-2002); Colonel Brittain Mallow, Commander, Criminal Investigation Task Force (2002-05); Joseph Margulies, Lead Counsel, Rasul v. Bush, Assistant Director, MacArthur Justice Center; George Brent Mickum IV, Attorney, Spriggs & Hollingsworth; Malcolm Nance, Chief of Training, US Navy SERE (1997-2001); Major General Thomas Romig, Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army (2001-2005); Richard Shiffrin, Deputy General Counsel, Intelligence, Department of Defense (1998-2003)Bisher Al-Rawi, Detainee #906; Moazzam Begg, Detainee #558; Shaffiq Rasul, Detainee #086;
  5. The Torture Archive.

Resources listed for further reading, from their website, are as follows:

Blogs and Online Resources:

  • Balkinization
    Though a broad-ranging blog focusing on a variety of legal topics, Balkinization has posted some of the most insightful analysis of legal issues pertaining to interrogation policy and the war on terror. See specifically the postings of Martin Lederman, a former attorney with the Office of Legal Counsel, and now a Professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • Convictions (Slate)
    Another blog covering a range of legal issues, but with significant focus on issues pertaining to interrogation and detention policy in the war on terror. See specifically posts by Martin Lederman of Georgetown University Law Center, and Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School.
  • SCOTUSblog
    A blog focusing on cases before the United States Supreme Court, SCOTUSblog is an outstanding resource for information pertaining to the various cases before appellate courts dealing with detainees held at Guantanamo.
  • American Civil Liberties Union Blog
    The premier advocacy organization for civil liberties in the United States, the ACLU’s blog gives first-hand insight into the legal issues surrounding America’s interrogation and detention policy in the war on terror.
  • CagePrisoners
    Cageprisoners is a British-based human rights organization that seeks to “raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror.”
  • Reprieve.org.uk
    Reprieve is a human rights group headed by Clive Stafford Smith providing legal representation to numerous detainees in the war on terror.
  • The Guantanamo Testimonials Project at UC Davis
    The Guantanamo Testimonials Project was designed to host “testimonies of prisoner abuse in Guantanamo, to organize them in meaningful ways, to make them widely available online, and to preserve them there in perpetuity.”
  • Human Rights First Blog
    A premier international group fighting for human rights, HRF has been advocating for humane treatment for detainees at Guantanamo since the prison camp opened in January 2002. This blog details their first hand observations of the legal proceedings at Guantanamo.
  • Human Rights Watch
    One of the world’s largest and well-regarded human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch is a fierce advocate for the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo.
  • Human Rights Watch, Timeline of Detainee Abuse Allegations and Responses, 2006
    Containing articles, memos, and statements, this timeline spans from December 25, 2002 to May 3, 2004 and highlights significant moments and themes relating to concerns about mistreatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations.
  • No Comment (Scott Horton @ Harper’s)
    Blog of New York human rights attorney and Harper’s contributor Scott Horton.
  • Humans Rights First, Chronology of Denial of Habeas Corpus
    This timeline, from December 28, 2001 to December 5, 2007, outlines changes to detainee rights during the post 9-11 years.
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
    As an independent and neutral international organization, the ICRC is committed to ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance to victims of war and violence, including the proper treatment of detainees at facilities such as Guantanamo Bay.

Books:

  • Alexander, Matthew with John Bruning. How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq, Free Press, 2008.
  • Begg, Moazzam. Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram, and Kandahar. New Press, 2007.
  • Danner, Mark. Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror. New York Review Books, 2004.
  • Gellman, Barton. Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency. Penguin Press HC, 2008.
  • Goldsmith, Jack. The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration. W. W. Norton, 2007.
  • Greenberg, Karen and Joshua Dratel. The Torture Papers, The Road to Abu Ghraib. Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Gourevitch, Philip and Errol Morris. Standard Operating Procedure. Penguin Press HC, 2008.
  • Hersh, Seymour. Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. Harper Perennial, 2005.
  • Jaffer, Jameel and Amrit Singh. Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. Columbia University Press, 2007.
  • Khan, Mahvish. My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me. PublicAffairs, 2008.
  • Kurnaz, Murat. Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
  • Mahler, Jonathan. The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
  • Margulies, Joseph. Guantanamo and the Abuse of Presidential Power. Simon & Schuster, 2006.
  • Mayer, Jane. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Doubleday, 2008.
  • McCoy, Alfred. A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Holt Paperbacks, 2006.
  • Rejali, Darius. Torture and Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2007.
  • Saar, Erik and Viveca Novak. Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo. Penguin Press HC, 2005.
  • Sands, Phillippe. Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. Palgrave Macmillan. 2008.
  • Savage, Charles. Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. Back Bay Books, 2008.
  • Smith, Clive Stafford. The Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Fighting the Lawless World of Guantanamo Bay. Nation Books, 2007.
  • Suskind, Ron. The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11. Simon & Schuster, 2007.
  • Wax, Steven T. Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror – A Public Defender’s Inside Account. Other Press, 2008.
  • Worthington, Andy. The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 759 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison. Pluto Press, 2007.

Organizations engaged in a range of activities on the issue of torture, and their reports:

American Civil Liberties Union

The nation’s largest public interest law firm, the American Civil Liberties Union works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and U.S. laws.  The ACLU filed a landmark FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Defense and other federal agencies that has resulted in the release of thousands of documents – which continues to this day – regarding detention and interrogation policies.

Reports:

Enduring Abuse: Torture and Cruel Treatment by the United States at Home and Abroad

American Constitution Society

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is a non-partisan educational organization comprised of a network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges and policymakers.  ACS has addressed the legal implications of matters such as torture and restrictions on habeas corpus.

Reports:

Guantanamo is Here: The Military Commissions Act and Noncitizen Vulnerability

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a movement of people across more than 150 countries who campaign for internationally recognized human rights.  AI’s human rights campaigns include Countering Terror with Justice and Detention and Imprisonment.

Reports:

USA: Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power

USA: Cruel and Inhuman: Conditions of isolation for detainees at Guantanamo Bay

USA: Rendition – torture – trial? : The case of Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Cageprisoners

Cageprisoners is a human rights organization created to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere in the “war on terror.”  The organization, launched in October 2003, has the backing of both Muslim and non-Muslim lawyers, activists, former detainees, families of prisoners and academics.

Reports:

Citizens No More: ‘War on Terror’ Abuses in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Center for Constitutional Rights

Founded in 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights is a legal advocacy group dedicated to advancing and protecting rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   CCR has coordinated more than 500 attorneys who have worked pro bono defending prisoners in custody at Guantanamo, in proceedings that have placed thousands of pages of documents on the public record.

Reports:

Profiles of Guantanamo Refugees

Guantánamo: Six Years Later

The Torture of Mohammed Al Qahtani

a. Declaration of Gitanjali S. Gutierrez, Esq., Lawyer for Mohammed al Qahtani

b. Interrogation Log

The Military Commissions Act of 2006

Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

Report: Tipton Three Detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay

Report: Guantanamo and Its Aftermath (UC Berkeley & C.C.R.)

Center on Law and Security at New York University

Founded in 2003, the Center on Law and Security is an independent, non-partisan center designed to promote an informed understanding of major legal and security issues that have defined the post-9/11 environment.  Policymakers, practitioners, scholars, journalists and other experts are brought together to address major issues and provide concrete policy recommendations.

Reports:

Terrorist Trials, September 11, 2001-April 1, 2008

Center for Victims of Torture

The Center for Victims of Torture is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization which provides services directly to torture survivors; trains health, education, and human services professionals; conducts research; and advocates for public policy initiatives.  It also operates healing centers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Human Rights First

Human Rights First seeks accountability for human rights violations while also working to protect people at risk: refugees who flee persecution, victims of crimes against humanity, victims of discrimination, those whose rights are eroded in the name of national security, and advocates who are targeted for defending the human rights of others.

Reports:

How to Close Guantanamo: Blueprint for the Next Administration

Tortured Justice: Using Coerced Evidence to Prosecute Terrorist Suspects

Command Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

Ending Secret Detentions

Arbitrary Justice: Trials of Bagram and Guantanamo Detainees in Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch, an independent nongovernmental organization, is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world.  HRW challenges governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law.

Reports:

Locked Up Alone:  Detention Conditions and Mental Health at Guantanamo

Double Jeopardy: CIA Renditions to Jordan

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  Since its formation in January 2006, over 200 religious groups have become members.

Physicians for Human Rights

Physicians for Human Rights mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice.  Harnessing the specialized skills of doctors, nurses, public health specialists, and scientists, PHR investigates human rights abuses.

Reports:

Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the US

Reprieve / UK office

Reprieve, founded by Clive Stafford Smith, is a legal action charity that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners from death row to Guantanamo, where 30 prisoners are currently represented by the organization’s attorneys.   Reprieve is also investigating “extraordinary renditions” and secret prisons.

Reports:

The Forgotten Italian Residents In Guantanamo Bay

“Human Cargo:”  Binyam Mohamed and the Rendition Frequent Flier Programme

Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International

The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC) is the only organization founded by and for torture survivors, and works to end the practice of torture wherever it occurs and to empower survivors, their families and communities wherever they are.

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About Maximilian C. Forte

I am a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. My areas of research and teaching interest are centered in Political Anthropology, with a focus on imperialism, neoliberalism and globalization, nationalism, democracy, and the international political economy of knowledge production.
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